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from Friday, February26th of the year2010.

I hope everybody bought Daníel‘s album and Valgeir‘s album! Daníel is playing a show with Sam Amidon on the 3rd of March at LPR in New York; I’m totally gutted that I can’t be there, but everybody should go, and clap riotously. One thing that drives me batshit crazy is how Icelandic names are encoded on iTunes; sometimes they will render Valgeir’s name Sigurdsson, which is an alright substitute for what it really is, which is Sigurðsson, which is to say, the Son of Sigurður, which is his dad’s name. Poor Valgeir is occasionally written up as Sigurrósson, which is an abomination, because Sigur Rós is (a) a girl’s name and (b) the name of an Icelandic band, and it doesn’t even make any sense b/c it would have to be Rósarson, and so the whole thing makes less sense than “Jumbo Shrimp.”

Classical Music encoding on iTunes is such a riot, too. Have any of y’all ever bought an opera off of iTunes? If you sort your library by album, you end up with one artist called “Anna Gonda, Brigitte Poschner, Czeslawa Sania, Eva Randová, Hans…” and it’s like…oh! Right. It’s the old Solti Lohengrin recording. Hip-hop is even worse: “Busta Rhymes, Mary iGrec Blige, Missy Elliott & Rah Digga.” Isn’t that just the Touch It Remix? Can’t somebody get on team common sense up in iTunes? I know about four people who would be great at this; Apple, call me.

You should call my friend Matthew to separate out the two; it’ll take him approximately two days to go through the entire catalogue and discern who’s talking about what (that is, until my opera comes out at which point it’s anybody’s game.) (j/k!)

And also: you need to distinguish between cum as it is used in Latin (it means with) and cum as in skeet as in nut. I can’t deal with looking through these expurgated versions of psalms titled C*m Dederit or Peccavimus c*m patribus nostris. It’s silly, and it’s just going to make people think about skeet when they should be thinking about Christ.

Speaking of skeet & Christ, last month, I read, with great relish, Gayle Haggard’s memoir, Why I Stayed. The basic thrust of the narrative is that her husband, Ted Haggard, who was the pastor of an megachurch in Colorado, was involved in a gay sex scandal, where it was alleged that he either did or did not have a three-year relationship with Mike Jones, an escort in Denver, who either did or did not buy crystal meth for Haggard, and either did or did not give him Erotic Rubs-Down with or without Happys Ending. Now. Gayle Haggard’s book essentially narrates her thought process during the first 72 hours after her husband told her that “some of the accusations were true” through the deliciously bureaucratic process of the church’s overseeing body basically banishing this family from the fellowship of the church. Haggard portrays herself “” as she, to a certain extent is “” as a victim of not only her husband’s infidelities but also of the corporate and very un-Christian process by which she and her husband were removed from the embrace of the church. (Keep in mind that these huge churches are the new 16th century Catholics: we are talking very complicated political overseeing bodies, lawyers, presidents, Ralph Reed de’ Medici etc.) This is something I found genuinely touching, as I found the same thing in The Eyes of Tammy Faye; in the eyes of sexual misconduct, the warm embrace of the church really does vanish into a series of writs, subpoenas, formal documents, obliquely legal agreements. This stuff is awful and fascinating and, for women of faith, it always does seem to come as a surprise that church highers-upp will reach for the litigious mode a lot quicker than they will hug you and talk about Grace. Gayle Haggard’s book “” from start to finish “” is genuinely touching as she navigates her relationship to her personal faith and to the faith-structures she herself helped organize.

In my slightly buttoned-up understanding, to be shunned from a parish is a very extreme form of punishment. The particular brand of charismatic Christianity that the Haggard family belongs to prides itself on being inclusive, and Gayle Haggard takes great pains to both address and avoid the inclusiveness of her church. They welcome everybody into the church “” the young, the old, the straight, the narrow, the gay, the intersex. This is, in my experience, true; I spent a few weeks in Colorado and I went to a bunch of megachurches and was literally welcomed with open arms. These people are not messing around in the context of worship. What she never says, despite her frequent dippings into scripture, is that crazy right-wing Christians will banish the fuck out of you if there is any implication that your husband was some kind of Gay. See, these people Я Stupid, like, in a Ruminant sort of way, but they are also savagely defensive of what they view to be the sanctity of their community and family (vis gay marriage, etc). So when you, Gayle Haggard, stand by your man, who may or may not have gotten his salad tossed on the regs by a hustler, you are not allowed to be surprised by people shunning you. What your ass needs to do is reach back all the way to college, all the way back to your childhood, and think about every nasty, un-Christlike thing anybody near you said about a gay person, and think about all those moments you did not correct them. You need to think about how you told your kids about homosexuals and homosexual behavior. You need to put down that New Revised Standard Edition and do a real reckoning from A to Þ, and realize that you, your man, and the community of which you were once pillars, are freaked-out bigots, and they can smell the pong of lube and ‘tina on your coochie that was there transferred by your man. It’s on you, Miss Þing. Tammy Faye got fucked over big time, but remember that it was her ass hugging AIDS victims on national TV while you were still having your Ken & Barbie courtship with your gayfaced babydaddy.

Gayle writes,

Before Ted revealed his deepest problems to me, I wouldn’t have wanted to touch the topic of homosexuality in any forum. I didn’t want to even think about it. If someone had told me that her child or husband struggled with same-sex attraction, I would feel compassion, and I’d promise to pray for her. I wouldn’t reject her son, daughter, or husband, but I wouldn’t have wanted to invest myself in understanding the person’s battle. I could give sympathy, but empathy? I didn’t want to think about it that much.

This is good. This is a good step, and I like how she distinguishes between sympathy and empathy even though it’s stupid because you shouldn’t need to feel empathetic for people with lesbian daughters. Notice, though, how she avoids the idea that she would have to deal with the homosexuality of a peer, right? It’s always the husband or son, and then she slightly expands it to include Mary Cheney. But then she goes into this whole exegesis about desire and sin and all this folded-up connection between homosexuality and ingrained behavior and all this pseudo-science that completely ignores that probably 10 out of every 100 women she knows has gotten it ate by another woman. She links homosexual desires to OCD and bipolar disorder “” holla! I have a trifecta! “” and then quotes James, talmbout:

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.


But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

K fine. She concludes, “That’s why, as strange as it might sound, we can rejoice when our sin is exposed.”

So like…tell your man to get off of twitter talking about lie detectors and tell him to tweet about his sin! I want to know what it is so that I can meeklie processe ytt.

Gayle writes, eloquently,

The Bible addresses how to confront a believer who’s sinning and how to apply discipline if that person won’t repent. But that wasn’t the case with Ted. It wasn’t just that he had broken down in tears before me, his staff, and the overseers, confessed his sin, and asked for help. He had also chosen to cooperate fully with the overseers, even though we didn’t agree with the way they were handling the situation. And he didn’t resist the idea of going to PhÅ“nix for counseling. It seemed clear to me that Ted had repented.

To support this, she quotes Galatians 6:1-2:

If another believer is overcome by some sin, who who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

Now let’s check out the KJV, because I don’t even understand what Bible she’s on about:

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Oh, honey. The spirit of meekness. Why didn’t you call out the fact that the spirit of meekness is not found in the fact that you observed that “the atmosphere at New Life had changed from one of life and freedom to one of suspicion, fear, and control”? Why did you allow yourself to be subjected to such Roman laws? Was it because you were ashamed? Both of y’all immediately obfuscated what sin we were even talking about, by throwing up these smoke screens of the generic words “Sin” (which, let’s not forget, is translated in the KJV as “fault” in this instance, which is a little different) and also of these lie detectors? She says that she knew that their instructions were going against the bible; why not speak out then?

The reason I bring this up today is because Ted Haggard (@tedhaggard7, on twitter) has been bringing up the fact that he passed four lie detector tests about “what went on” and that Mike Jones, the escort, “failed one.” Now. If you’re as obsessed with this as I am, you can read Jones’s own account of this test, which is a slightly over-dramatized tale of sleep deprivation, depression, and stress. But what @tedhaggard7 will never do “” can never do “” is tweet, in 140 characters, What He Paid To Have Happen To His Body. But that’s what we need to hear! If he’s gonna publicly be on there talking about lie detector tests, I want to hear his version about what exactly happened. I want him and Jones in a room, together, arguing about what went down. Gayle has made this into public property, and I’m sick of this pussyfooting around the issue. All this talk about lie detectors, as we all know from watching as much SVU as there are days in the year, is aside the point. Ted Haggard is somebody who made it his business to hide a part of his life deeply; surely he can keep it together enough to pass a lie detector!? You so know President Clinton could pass a lie detector test about anything. A lie detector test “” and all the noise around the results “” is just as litigiously informed as all the contracts that banished the Haggards from their parish, community, and friends. Ted & Gaÿle Haggard know as well as anybody that after the last trump, they are going to be held to account for all the people they helped through hard times, for all the stuff they taught their kids about forgiveness and about damning, and for all all the words both printed and tweeted that are true, or false, or misleading.

I‘ma end this on a positive note. A boy from my high-school whom I always found to be, like, one DB too passively Christian has involved himself in what seems like the exact right thing, which is a farm in San Francisco that’s supported, loosely, by the Anglican Diocese. I love projects like these, because I think the Anglican church has exactly the right attitude about community gardening (at least in this instance) which is free from a lot of the meshugena veganism and backwards ideas about community (that always, always, play out on message boards or in passive aggressive notes about somebody’s dry lemon bars and somebody else’s undercooked lentils) that normally plague such a community garden. I am going to donate to their truck fund and urge everybody to do the same. This is the one weird place where I kind of support faith-based charities “” except those ones that h8 abortion “” because I think that’s one thing the church can be really wonderful at. Don’t h8, donate to Haiti. Etc. Dot com. Bar and Grill.


  • I think you’ve pinned it. I so value your insights into the modern church since you seem to come out of some sort of high-church background and since you always speak carefully and intelligently.

  • In re: the Spirit of Meekness (title!), I always found it beautiful/interesting that on Yom Kippur–the Day of Atonement–Jews are not permitted to ask forgiveness of G-d for a sin against another human being until we have asked that person to forgive us. If the person refuses, the One Who Has Sinned is still obligated to ask two more times, sincerely. If forgiveness is still not given after three sincere, meek, and humble requests, then one may ask G-d. But not before.

  • I don’t think there is a better opening to a paragraph then: “Speaking of skeet & Christ,…”

  • can’t even explain how much I enjoyed reading this…

  • hilarious. that was great to wake up to.

  • What I find interesting, Nico, is that you find anything to do with the delusional Haggards interesting. Try to resist those best sellers at airport book stores, eh, unless they’re about something other than sex, money, and religion (and drugs!).
    Btw, you really do need a forum, you know, a ‘chatter’ type place where we could discuss this and other topics further.
    Off to buy those albums you’ve recommended!

  • About a hundred years ago there was a television show hosted by none other than Hugh Hefner called Playboy After Dark in which “Hef” hosted a party. There was conversation, impromptu musical performance and so forth. Isn’t there some NY cable access channel or internet video forum where you could reinvent that concept?

  • Brilliant. Spot On. What Erik and Brandon said! And now, as per PP, off to buy music and donate to a truck fund.

  • “oh hunny, the spirit of meekness”

    its all the funniest when you return to your own reality. I saw those two on tv and watching a dude talk about cocking around like it was the one time he drank too much tequilla…

    based on my own maxim “laughter is the sound of recognition”

    which judging by how much I laugh retrospectively fro this here screed, prolly includes re cognition “of a ruminant sort” maybe they are just working up a stand up act.

  • “skeet & Christ”
    How hilarious.

  • Lucky you, not living in Italy and not having to deal with Vatican sex scandals each and every day..

  • Man cannot forget that he is an animal, no matter where evolution takes him.

    Belief is in the mind of the beholder, not the beheld, and it is not a menu from which you can pick your ideology. The whole thing or nothing.

    What we see here is a last battle – not of any apocalyptic kind, but realisation that ‘faith’, ‘belief’ and ‘religion’ are the last vestiges of superstition in the human mind, and the deep understanding that nothing really matters.

    Mozart in 1000 years? The web in a century?

    I think not.